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12/5/16blog post

stop petting puppies

When I first read about the recent events at some college campuses, I thought it was a joke. One university held “post-election self-care events” with therapy dogs and coloring books for their students. Others had Legos, bubbles, and food available to help college kids deal with their grief reactions. Counseling services were made available at several campuses. Exams were cancelled in some situations to help the so-called traumatized students.

This type of self-indulgent reaction is incomprehensible to adults of my generation. When confronted with what was perceived of as an unjust war, college students in previous years behaved very differently.They didn’t pet puppies or blow bubbles to make themselves feel good. They took action that eventually resulted in dramatic changes in our society.

I’m not indicting an entire generation of college students, nor minimizing the serious apprehensions resulting from our election. However, the response of some college kids does seem a bit immature in a couple of ways.

First, I’m getting really tired of kids talking about the “stress” they feel from everyday life. Our kids, with some notable exceptions, are among the most privileged in the history of childhood. They generally get an inordinate amount of attention and material benefits unknown to other generations.

Even so, many kids apparently feel “stressed out” and have a severe reaction by the most routine of events. They complain excessively about exams in school, the loss of a friend or arguments with their parents. One student told me recently that she was the victim of bullying because her best friend made a sarcastic comment about the clothes she was wearing!

I wish these kids could spend a day in my office and learn about real stress from other kids. These youngsters have been sexually abused, routinely humiliated by peers, or emotionally abused by drug-addicted parents.

We need to be strong enough to tell our kids to stop complaining about life and appreciate their many benefits. Kids will stop whining when we stop being so overly sympathetic.

Second, let’s stop overprotecting kids from experiencing failure and frustration. Life is not about avoiding disappointments, but rather dealing with difficulties in a balanced and positive manner. Allow your kids to fail, feel pain, and deal with rejection.

Many children (and adults) harbor irrational beliefs that lead them to catastrophize their current situation. They erroneously think that they have no control over their lives, that they should always get their way, or that bad things are much worse than they actually are. Challenge these self-defeating ways of thinking.

It’s time for college students to put away their coloring books and Legos and start to deal with life.

Will the resilient!

After surgery with Dayton Children's orthopedics team for hip dysplasia and three months in a spica cast, Will is on the move.

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